In the final part of the film, Pinky (Hajra Yamin) describes her state with this dialogue ‘Khush hon, bus lagi hoey hon, rukongi nahe’. This line, seizes the life stories of the different characters we meet during the course of the film.
Set in Dubai, Pinky Memsaab focuses on the life of Pinky, a young divorcee, who moves to Dubai to work as domestic help for Meher (Kiran Malik). Her differently abled uncle and other family members are dependent on her income. Mehr, has own struggles. She is unsure of her own worth. Having authored a best seller book before marriage, she fears that has become this socialite, and a trophy wife. Her husband Hassan (Adnan Jaffer) is an investment banker, has no time for her or their son and makes little effort to dispel any of her fears. We also meet the chauffeur Santosh (Indian actor Sunny Hinduja). He is a lonely do-gooder, considering Pinky’s friendliness as something more. Playing a self-aware and head strong exotic dancer is Kulsoom (Hajrah Khan).
These characters go through different journeys of self-discovery. We are told their back stories. Some of the storylines are more fulfilling than others. A lot of them, feel like they are papering over the cracks to well, just get on with their lives. The film tries to deal with colourism, social class issues, saviour complexes, cultural & religious differences, patriarchal society and stigmas attached to 2nd marriage. In doing so, it wanders like its characters. Perhaps, this is the director and writer Shazia Ali Khan’s way of telling us how life is in Dubai or may be it is a flaw in the script. While, the film starts at an interesting point, the build-up to the climax is maze like. You are not really waiting for it. The director ensures that this repeated story of self-discovery has a fresh angle to it, going out of her way to surprise the audiences. However, unlike say Cake, Pinky Memsaab, lacks that punch in its reveal sequence.
As for performances Hajra Yamin is a brilliant. She had a conflicted character to play, which she pulls off with ease. A lesser actor might have made a meal of Pinky’s ‘transformation’ but she was able to make it believable. Her change, was never in your face, her acting was subtle but with expressions she spoke out loud. Kiran Malik, looks the part and for the most part does well. However, the turning points of her character seem a bit rushed and it would have been difficult for any actor to make it work. Adnan Jaffer, and Hajrah Khan were adequate without being outstanding. Along with Hajra Yamin, the star of the film was definitely Santosh Kumar. Wearing a charming smile even in difficult moments, Santosh is earnest. Unlike the city he resides in, he is honest, and upfront about his own suffering. There is no little façade to Santosh.
In a particular scene, Santosh is talking about life in Dubai and how he is now letting go of everything. The film maker in that scene focuses the camera on Pinky. She is talking in a language of expressions, but I would have wanted see more of Santosh. However, generally the film uses closes up, perhaps representative of how closed off these people feel from their surroundings.
So, while the film has it weak points, it is a praise worthy effort. It is always better to have film which grapples with too much rather offering too little. All in all Pinky Memsaab is a story of wanderers, who have left their loved ones, and passions behind to pursue this illusion of a better life. A life which has engulfed them by now and there is no way one can just snap out it. Sounds like the Dubai dream to me.